BEYOND LUXURY

LUXURY,  NICE THINGS, BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE, HIGH CLASS, UPSCALE, FASHIONABLE, RICH, …

I grew up in an ecclesiastical culture where money was not glorified.  Even as a teenager I was puzzled as to why we didn’t have what other kids had; big homes, etc., etc.  A few years of my childhood we lived with my grandpa.  He was rich, but no one knew it. My dad was an evangelist and most of the time, pastored a church.  It seemed as though we were “pore” as Job’s turkey.  Grandpa gave my folks money from time to time, but my mom and dad gave it to the church.

When in college I yearned for nice things and I worked my way through by singing/entertaining, meeting people with unbelievable wealth; met and stayed in the home of the largest school bus manufacturer in America, sang at Winston Rockefeller’s ranch, R. G. LeTourneau (inventor and builder of huge earth-moving machines), and met old Sam Walton.  I wanted to “be somebody.” In recent years I’ve stayed in the homes of the internationally famous – wealth beyond what the mind can conceive.

SO WHAT!!!

“‘Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.’” (Luke‬ ‭9:58‬) If Jesus was poor, why did he say so much about money and the things money can buy?  In fact, there are more than 2,000 places in the Bible where money and stuff-stuff is mentioned.  A rich kid came to Jesus and asked him what he should do to be saved. Jesus told him to sell his stuff. “Ooooooh nonono!”

You see, Jesus is challenging us the get our PRIORITIES straight!

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” (esv)

When You Hurt

YOU’RE HUMAN. YOU BEG, YOU CRY, YOU PLEAD WITH GOD FOR RELIEF. Yes, you are flesh and blood and that’s why you hurt. Did you know that you are allowed to question? Go ahead, talk to Him. Ask Him. He wants to hear from you. I did. Oh my goodness! Waywayway down deep in my soul somewhere, He spoke. I had two kids who needed food; had no money, nothing! Our duplex rent was only paid until the end of the month and then we would be homeless. I applied for unemployment and the bureaucrat said, “No.”  I can’t describe the laceration of soul that Satan superimposed on me.  I could almost hear the demons of hell laughing, tantalizing me, making fun. It was more like toxic poison injected into the veins of my heart. Perhaps you have been there.  On Wednesday the banker for the church called me to meet with him and a client. The client owned 78 Skilled Nursing Facilities plus-plus-plus. The story is too long to detail here. The Lord God of Heaven opened the door. I became this very wealthy man’s executive assistant!

“In this world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” – Jesus

John 16:33

“I praise God for his word. I trust God, so I am not afraid.”

Psalms 56:4

 

🎼🎶

“No one understands like Jesus;

He’s a Friend beyond compare.

Meet Him at the throne of mercy;

He is waiting for you there.

“No one understands like Jesus

When the days are dark and grim.

No one is so near, so dear as Jesus;

Cast Your every care on Him.

“No understands like Jesus;

Every woe He sees and feels.

Tenderly He whispers comfort,

And the broken heart He heals.

“No one understands like Jesus

When the foes of life assail.

You should never be discouraged;

Jesus cares and will not fail.”

(John W. Peterson)

OUT OF BONDAGE

I PRESUME YOU WOULD LIKE TO HAVE ETERNAL LIFE.  You would like to be born again.  “Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot be in God’s kingdom.’”

‭‭John‬ ‭3:3‬ ‭(ncv)  “There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.””

‭‭Acts of the Apostles‬ ‭4:12‬ (nlt)

  1. Believe that God loves you, gave His Son for you, and didn’t come to judge you.

John 3:16-17

  1. Believe that you have a problem called sin! And sin causes eternal death and separation from God. “The payment for sin is death.”

Romans 6:23

  1. Believe  “that Christ died for your sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day ….”

‭‭      1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:3-4‬ ‭(niv)

  1. You must accept that you are a sinner. You can’t buy your way in. You can’t earn your way in.
  2. You must believe by faith that although you are a sinner, Christ died for you, confess with great sorrow, and that you are willing to give up on the sin life. That’s called repentance! Surrender!

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.”  ‭‭Romans‬ ‭5:8-9‬ ‭

“‘Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.’”  ‭‭Revelation‬ ‭3:20‬ ‭(nlt)

“Out of my bondage, sorrow and night,

Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;

Into Thy freedom, gladness and light,

Jesus, I come to Thee.

Out of my sickness into Thy health,

Out of my want and into Thy wealth,

Out of my sin and into Thyself,

Jesus, I come to Thee.

“Out of my shameful failure and loss,

Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;

Into the glorious gain of Thy cross,

Jesus, I come to Thee.

Out of earth’s sorrows into Thy balm,

Out of life’s storms and into Thy calm,

Out of distress to jubilant psalm,

Jesus, I come to Thee.”

(William T. Sleeper – 1819-1904)

CHANGE

HERE’S WHAT HAPPENS when you surrender to God through Christ.

  1. You get sick and tired of sin’s filth; the smell, the hurt, the guilt.
  2. You notice that your desires have changed.
  3. You make a conscious, volitional approach to God through Christ Jesus.
  4. With sincere desire you pray, “Lord God, I’m in desperate need of you. Get rid of the “whatever” in my life. I surrender. Come into my heart.”
  5. Strange, but as you live in that attitude of surrender, you get more and more hungry for His wonderful peace and purity.
  6. You realize you don’t know it all, but you get more and more hungry in your heart. You desire to be holy!
  7. Sometimes, the desire to be like Jesus, to have His presence , is so overpowering you may cry.
  8. Then, all hell breaks loose. You may fall back a little; seems Satan gets ahold of you, but that strong hunger speaks deep in your soul again and again. You do not give up.
  9. You struggle. You question. You pray. You hurt. You ask why. You’re still hungry. You’re tempted. You want to give up. You’re ready to give up … again.
  10. Then He speaks softly. You start to sing:  🎼🎶🎹

“Come to my soul, blessed Jesus.

Hear me, O Savior Divine

Open the fountain and cleanse me.

Give me a heart like Thine.”

11.  The hunger returns. His Spirit speaks. You repent. You believe. You give up. You surrender. That astonishing, breathtaking, overwhelming, eye-opening joy expands your heart.

12.  Peace.

RULES! RULES! RULES! 

Is that what following Christ is all about?  Maybe a teeny, tiny bit, but if you love the Lord with ALL your heart, and soul, with ALL your mind, and with ALL your strength, rules will find their place.

“So don’t let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating certain holy days or new moon ceremonies or Sabbaths. For these rules are only shadows of the reality yet to come. And Christ himself is that reality.”

‭‭Colossians‬ ‭2:16-17‬ ‭(nlt)

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’  Also, ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Jesus said this, ‘Do this and you will live.’”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭10:27-28‬ ‭(ncv)

I once climbed a mountain. It was not quite perpendicular, but straight up enough to scare the living daylights out of me as I turned to look down.  My hiking partner had already made it encouraging me saying, “Come on man!  Don’t look down. Just keep climbing. Look up here. You’re gonna make it.”  Rock by rock, foothold by foothold I made it!

“Then Jesus said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.’”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭9:23‬ ‭(niv)

Row, Row Your Boat

DO YOU KNOW HOW TIRED YOU WOULD BE IF YOU ROWED A BOAT FOR 3 to 4 MILES IN CHOPPY WATERS?  That was the dilemma in which Jesus’ followers found themselves. Oh how they were aching for the Prince of Peace! They were yearning, longing for His Presence- but when? When? Will He ever show up again?!  They were carrying around the beauty of His message in weakened bodies. You’ve been there. The hurts, the questions! Are you destined for a watery grave, an eternity of hopelessness? But by faith you didn’t give up. Like the Apostle Paul you kept looking into the darkness –

“For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;”

‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭4:16-17‬ 

Isn’t it amazing!  Jesus always shows up “when we have exhausted our hoarded resources.”

“When they had rowed the boat about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the water, coming toward the boat. The followers were afraid, but Jesus said to them, “It is I. Do not be afraid.””

‭‭John‬ ‭6:19-20‬ ‭(ncv)  

“‘Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace,Whose mind is stayed on Thee.’

When the shadows come and darkness falls,

He giveth inward peace.

Oh, He is the only perfect Resting Place!

He giveth perfect peace.

‘Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace,

Whose mind is stayed on Thee.’”

(Vivian A. Kretz) 

 

Cheap Salvation

THIS SALVATION THING IS NOT ANTISEPTIC.  CHRIST on the Cross was sticky with blood oozing out of his hands, his feet, thorns crushed down on his brow. He was almost to the point of abject despondency when he said, “My God, my God! Why have you forsaken me?” But when he said, “It is finished,” eternal salvation took place!

Oswald Chambers wrote (My Utmost for His Highest, November 20), “Forgiveness, which is so easy for us to accept, cost the agony of the cross.”

“In Christ we are set free by the blood of his death, and so we have forgiveness of sins. How rich is God’s grace, ….”‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭1:7‬ ‭(ncv)

God hates the evil in us and the gruesome estimate of his hatred is Calvary – the Cross!  Anything less, Bonhoeffer calls “cheap grace.”  ERIC METAXAS, Author of BONHOEFFER, Timothy J. Keller describes in his foreword to the book how Bonhoeffer describes the decline of Germany, and what part the church, or Churches, played in Hitler coming to power.

He writes: “How could the ‘church of Luther’, that great teacher of the gospel, have ever come to such a place?”

The Churches in Germany had become formalistic, lame, having become so broad minded as to lose “costly grace.” They wound up possessing very little, something Bonhoeffer calls “cheap grace.”  Keller writes: “That meant going to church and hearing that God just loves and forgives everyone, so it doesn’t really matter much how you live.”  (xv)

This is not too different from what we see in today’s American Churches.  Our  Churches of today are running headlong into that cheap grace of which Bonhoeffer speaks.  When was the last time you heard a sermon about the Blood of Christ, or rugged salvation, or the old rugged cross, or heaven, Hell or Satan?  Or about holiness? No, today’s Church services are more like a Rock concert or a speech by your public college professor, with one hand in his left pants pocket, speeching how God (maybe) is so loving that all you need do is smile, think positive thoughts and you’ll be  healthy, wealthy & wise.

THE MYSTERY OF GOD – # VI

What does God look like? Do we look like Him?  Does He look like us? We are told that human beings are made in the image of God. You gotta be kidding! Skinny ones, fat ones, tall, short, male, female, red-yellow-black-and white? Are they all precious in His sight? 

The image of God? Yes, but not what we ordinarily think because we only think of the physical.  We were made spiritual.  Do you feel, cry, suffer, love? Is your life a sacrament? Can you praise and bless and commune and give gifts?  Can you cooperate, create, have clarity of vision, write books and sing songs?  Do you have a will and can you hear?  Can you plant and grow?  

We are separate yet different. We like color and music and dreaming. We like beauty and cleanliness and honesty and goodness. WE WERE MADE IN GOD’S IMAGE! The Lord God did all this on purpose. 

“ … God’s kingdom is within you.”

Luke 17:21

Yes, we are far more through the Holy Spirit and He through us than our minds can conceive!

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”   Matthew 5:8

🎼🎶🎹

“For He’s more wonderful than my mind can conceive. 

He’s more wonderful than my heart can believe. 

He goes beyond my highest hopes and fondest dreams. 

He’s everything that my soul ever longed for;

Everything He’s promised and so much more;

More than amazing,

More than marvelous,

More than miraculous could ever be. 

He’s more than wonderful;

That’s what Jesus is to me.”

(Sandi Patty)

NOT THE GOLDEN GLOVES

SORRY TO POP YOUR BALLOON, but if you get in a fight you will probably get hit, maybe beat up &  knocked down. OTOH, Jesus is the healer. He says, “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give you a rich and satisfying life.” John‬ ‭10:10‬ ‭(nlt)

In your spiritual battle with Satan, the only way out is by PRAYER, FASTING,  FAITH, FAITHFULNESS AND FORGIVENESS [throw a punch or two with PRAISE].

“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.”

‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭4:7‬ ‭(nlt)

🎼🎶🎹

“Have we trials and temptations?   Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged; Take it to the Lord in prayer!  “Can we find a friend so faithful, who will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our every weakness.  Take it to the Lord in prayer!”  (Joseph Scriven)